Newsletter High on the Desert The Virtual Gardener

High on the Desert
aster Garde
se County M
Vol. 25, No. 4 April 2014
The University of Arizona and U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperating
The Virtual Gardener—Creating an Electronic Garden Journal
On March 13 I presented a workshop
on Gardening With Technology at the
High Desert Gardening & Landscaping
Conference in Sierra Vista, AZ. One of
the topics I discussed at the workshop
was creating an electronic garden
Good gardeners have always kept
track of what they have done in the
garden so they can repeat their successes and avoid repeating their failures.
The very best gardeners go a step
further and write things down instead of
trusting their memories. Forgetting or
misremembering is easy to do with
gardening activities that occur on
annual cycles.
So what might a gardener want to
keep track of?
Whether we’re talking about edibles
or ornamentals, the most fundamental
facts to remember are what we planted,
when we planted it, where we planted
it, and what results we got. Regardless
of the results—good or bad—we might
also want to remember how we took
care of the plants. How were they
watered? Fertilized? Treated for disease
or pests? How much sunlight did they
get? What was the soil type? Drainage?
How about the weather during the
growing season?
It might even help us predict events in
the future if we kept track of the
development of our plants. When did
seedlings, first leaves, blossoms, or
fruits appear? What was the yield?
When did the plants die or go dormant?
The traditional solution to recording
garden notes is a paper journal. Paper
journals come in all shapes and sizes.
They can be fancy, bound books you
purchase at a stationery store or simple
loose-leaf notebooks like you used in
school. Some people even record their
notes on 3 X 5 cards.
All records kept on paper suffer from
the same shortcomings. Paper is easily
torn or smudged, and little pieces of
paper are notoriously easy to misplace.
Once notes have been written with
Inside this issue:
Cuttings “N’ Clippings
There are Seven Billion of Us
April Reminders
Integrated Pest Management
Ask a Master Gardener
Who “Dung” It?
At a Glance Box
(Continued on Page 2)
Cochise County Cooperative Extension
1140 N. Colombo, Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
(520) 458-8278, Ext. 2141
450 S. Haskell, Willcox, AZ 85643
(520) 384-3594
If you would like to learn more
about these programs and see how
other people have made use of
them, stop by the website I put
together for my Conference workhttps://
shop at:
Until next time, happy surfing!
(Continued from page 1)
either pen or pencil they are
difficult to neatly change. And if a
large volume of notes has been
created, it’s difficult to find things
again. Enter technology.
A class of software originally
designed for students to take notes
solves many of the problems
described above and introduces
many new possibilities. These
software applications allow
almost any type of data—text,
drawings, still imagery, video, or
audio—to be easily captured,
organized, and stored in a way
that makes it easy to search them.
Two premier note-taking
applications are Microsoft
OneNote and Evernote. Until a
few days ago OneNote was only
available by purchase from
Microsoft, but that has changed.
Now both OneNote and Evernote
are available for free for all
flavors of computers—PCs, Macs,
tablets, and smart phones.
Both programs are set up to
mimic paper notebooks. Notes can
contain any type of data that can
be captured and can be grouped
into “sections” and “notebooks.”
Notes can be hyperlinked to other
notes or external files and can be
tagged with keywords to facilitate
searching. Both Evernote and
OneNote have optical character
recognition features that allow
text in images to be transformed
into editable format and speech-to
-text features that can transform
spoken words into editable text.
Notes can be created in many
ways—keyboarding, drawing,
pasting, e-mailing, web-clipping,
“printing,” recording, scanning,
and photographing. Both applications allow direct control of
attached or built-in microphones
and web cams.
Once data has been put into the
programs, it can quickly be
organized and searched in many
Gary Gruenhagen, Master Gardener
different ways. Notes can be
filtered by notebook, section, or
keywords, and both programs
index every word in every note, so
a specific piece of information can
be quickly located.
Evernote stores all notes on
servers in the Cloud and automatically synchs all devices sharing the
same account whenever they are
connected to the Internet. If you
have Evernote installed on a tablet
or smart phone, they can display all
the information in Evernote on
your desktop computer. Conversely, you can create a note on the
mobile device and it will be
synched to your home computer.
OneNote, on the other hand, allows
notes to be stored locally or
optionally in the Cloud. To save
storage space on my mobile
devices, I keep a minimum amount
of information on Evernote and
transfer most notes to OneNote for
archiving on my home computer
which has much larger storage
Because it is so easy to collect
and organize large quantities of
information in these programs, you
can easily expand your traditional
garden journal into a far more
valuable tool containing annotated
pictures, copies of receipts,
warranties, operator manuals for
garden equipment, instructions,
Material Safety Data Sheets, and
plant references among many other
things. You are only limited by
your imagination.
Cuttings ‘N’
CCMGA will hold its next
meeting on Thursday, April 3, in
the Public Meeting Room in Groth
Hall at UASV, from 5:00—7:00
p.m. The speaker will be Kate Tirion with Borderlands Restorations.
The public is invited to the lecture
which will be from 5:00 to 6:00
Saturday, April 5, Water
Expo and the WaterCycle Ride
LOCATION: The Mall at Sierra
Vista, Hwy 92, Sierra Vista, AZ
Kick off at the Expo, April 5, 9 a.m.
to noon. Ride the easy 5-mile loop
with your family and test your water
cycle knowledge! Quiz stops will be
set up along the route for you to see
how well you know your watershed.
Come to the Mall to sign in for prizes! There will also be a “Leaky
House” and a bike rodeo!
WATER EXPO: Inside the Mall
from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lots of great
exhibits showing off the latest and
greatest, and tried and true water
conservation products and services.
Come listen to presentations!
For information call (520) 4588278, Ext 2141, or contact Joyce at:
You can visit Water Wise at:
There Are Seven Billion of Us
Yep; 7 billion human beings
live on this planet. Even more
stunning, an estimated 9 billionplus will live here 35 years from
now. Every one of them will need
food, shelter, and energy and they
will expect to be able to pursue a
comfortable life. The existence of
so many of us means that everything we do has a significant impact on our earth. In particular,
agriculture has a very big impact.
Back in the early 1900s, an acre
of corn yielded about 20 bushels
per acre. The introduction of hybrid corn boosted this to roughly
70 bushels per acre by the 1960s.
Nowadays, yields in excess of
160 bushels an acre are common.
The interesting thing about this
increase, though, is that it’s mostly the result of being able to plant
corn closer together than before.
It has not come from increasing
the number of ears per plant,
which is typically one ear, occasionally two. Instead, corn breeding improvements allowed denser
plantings. Largely due to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, these
denser plantings were successful.
Similar yield enhancements have
been achieved in other important
food crops like wheat and rice.
This achievement has become
known as the “Green Revolution”
and was led by, among others, the
late Dr. Norman Borlaug*. Remarkably, to a good first approximation, the total amount of land
being used to raise food has not
significantly increased in the last
half century, despite a doubling of
world population during that time.
Unfortunately, like anything in
this world, there have been negative consequences. Most of us are
familiar with these downsides:
fertilizer run-off, nitrification of
river and sea water, soil erosion,
and pesticide residues, among
many others. Nonetheless, without
the Green Revolution, we would
have instead needed to increase
the amount of land under cultivation.
Now, maybe that doesn’t seem
like a big deal, so let me put it another way. Were it not for the
Green Revolution, Dr. Borlaug
estimated that an additional 20
million square miles would have
been required to produce the same
amount of food. For comparison,
the land area of the state of California is 156,000 square miles.
Obviously, we’re not just talking a
few acres here and there. But, we
are already farming pretty much
every usable piece of land we can
in North America, Europe, and
Asia, so where would the land
necessary to feed another two billion come from? It turns out that
Brazil and Africa have a lot of
land that could be converted to
agriculture. Those in favor of
mowing down the rainforests,
raise your hands.
For me, the realization that it’s
either more land (lots more land!)
or better techniques hit like a ton
of bricks. It has also struck me that
agriculture, even “organic” agriculture, is a destructive act. It
takes from Mother Nature whatever she used the land for—birds,
bees, bears, bison—and converts it
to food production for us. A nicely
kept field may look pretty and the
pastoral image of Farmer John
tending his fields may strike us as
one of man and nature in blissful
harmony, but it ain’t so. An acre
of corn or rutabagas or peaches is
an acre that lions and tigers and
bears or pine trees and prairie
grasses have lost. And, without
continuing improvements in agriculture, they’ll lose more as our population increases.
So, it seems obvious that improving agricultural technology is vitally
important to us and to the environment. Those of us who read this
newsletter are part of a group that,
as a whole, is more involved with
and concerned about agriculture
than the population at large. What I
observe, though, is that many of us
have become a bit too “pure”.
We’re opposed to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. We’re opposed to
genetic modifications. We’re opposed to the use of biosolids. We’re
often opposed to anything that isn’t
strictly “organic”. It’s time to take a
more realistic and objective look.
We are lucky to live in a place
where food is plentiful and where
we can indulge our particular opinions with regard to what we eat and
how it was grown. Much of the
world’s population isn’t that lucky.
I am not suggesting that our back
yard gardens can’t be organic or that
we need to blindly accept the harm
that comes with the use of pesticides
and fertilizers. I am suggesting that
it’s time to look at agriculture, technology, and the issues facing us
with new eyes and an open mind.
Bill Schulze, Master Gardener
(*Note: Read about Dr. Norman Borlaug here in an August 2007 article in
the Master Gardener Newsletter.)
Stake new trees
Prepare for pests
Ask a Master Gardener
Cochise County Master Gardeners
are available to answer your gardening questions either by telephone call
to the Cooperative Extension Office
or on-line on our web site at:
Gardening with vegetables can be
fun and provide delicious and highly
nutritious fresh food. Watching and
working with plants can add a new
dimension of enjoyment to life and
bring an awareness of the wonderful
world of nature in the backyard. Ten
carefully taken steps will produce
many enjoyable moments and an
abundant harvest of fresh vegetables
during much of the year.
The Cooperative Extension bulletin Ten Steps to a Successful Vegetable Garden may be found on our
web site or here.
Who “Dung” It?
Mystery Visitor! For the past week
we’ve observed several new scat
piles in our garden every morning.
(See photo on Page 6 of newsletter.)
They are dark brown in color, roughly formed, and filled with seeds and
pieces of mesquite pods. There are
no identifiable footprints in the surrounding area. We would really like
to know who is wandering around
our fenced, urban yard in Sierra
Vista sometime overnight. If you
have any ideas, please email me!
Gary Gruenhagen, Master Gardener
Integrated Pest Management:
your garden, your summer squash, and your health
The principals of Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) were conceived in agriculture some 40
years ago and are of great value to
the modern home gardener. The
tenets of IPM, an eco-economic
program, begin with thresholds of
pest tolerance, monitoring and
identifying the pest or problem,
preventing the problem by disruption of its culture, and when necessary, control of the pest with
sensitivity to consequences. The
premise of monitoring plant
health, identifying plant problems,
and understanding the consequence of action taken to alleviate
problems makes us better gardeners.
I have arrived at a solution to
eliminate the pest problem of
powdery mildew fungi on my
summer squash that has worked
well for the past two growing seasons. This preventive solution
holds true only for cucurbits with
a short maturity date, such as yellow squash at 45 days to fruit.
Seed provenance and selection
for genetic resistance is an important consideration but not a
guaranty that infection will not
occur. Healthy soil provides essential nutrients for your plants to
express their inherent ability to
ward off powdery mildew. Allowance for good ventilation around
your plants and revision of irrigation techniques need to be realized, as too much water in the soil
provides a humid environment
under the leafy structure of the
plant. Crop rotation to another
vegetable family is advisable at
each new planting. All of these
horticultural disciplines have been
applied and allowed for good production of one of my favorite
foods; nonetheless, midsummer
rain and increase in ambient hu-
midity benefit the environment
for powdery mildew occurrence
and spread.
In mind of these considerations
I still experience fungal problems
with summer squash when our
summer rains come about. Powdery mildew enjoys a humid environment, spreads by airborne
spores, and can easily decimate
the plant’s beauty and production,
as well as predisposing the plant
to other harmful agents when in
What I have reckoned is that
planting before and after the rainy
season all but eliminates the occurrence of powdery mildew on
my summer squash. Most summer squash—zucchini, yellow,
gray, and others require only
35—60 days to reach maturity.
So I plant from seed early, approximately mid-April, when soil
temperature is 60° on average and
I enhance warmth and frost protection with row covers. At the
first sign of spore development I
have reaped, enjoyed, and stored
plenty of produce.
As soon as the fungi begins to
spread I pull the entire plant from
the soil, trash any infected material, then minimize the plant, and
get it into the hottest compost
spot immediately. If I do not have
a compost to put it in, I use an
alternative procedure. I place the
entire plant in a sealed black plastic bag to restrict spore spread
and then I place the bag in the sun
to heat the plant to temperatures
that will destroy the fungi.
This is hard to do. Take a living, producing plant from the garden and destroy it. I assure myself that it is best; it is economical, ecological, and beneficial to
the health and beauty of my gar(Continued on page 6)
At a Glance Box
It’s a Bloomin’ Cochise County Native Plant of the Month
Desert Globemallows
Cochise County native plants: Sphaeralcea ambigua, S. angustifolia, S.
fendleri, S. hastata, S. laxa, S. parvifolia.
Plant type: Herbaceous flowering plants, sizes vary up to 3 feet tall and
Native habitat: Poor dry soils, rocky slopes, washes.
Culture: Tolerant of many soil types, full sun, minimal if any supplemental irrigation.
Bloom: Orange to rose colored flowers bloom off and on spring- fall.
Landscape use: Perfect flowering plant for soils where nothing seems to
grow! Butterfly nectar plant.
Specimens: In the Cochise County Herbarium on UA Sierra Vista campus.
For an in-depth article, see below.
Cado Daily
Water Resources Coordinator, Water Wise Program
University of Arizona Cochise County Cooperative Extension
Desert Globemallows
I love the globemallows. If you
have a spot in your yard that has
hard, compacted soil or soil with
few redeeming qualities, plant a
globemallow. This super tough
plant will not only grow, but will
spread. Not only will you have a
lovely plant, but also its tough
roots will help to open up the soil
for other plants.
It is great to see local native
plants popular enough to be sold as
standard landscape plants. The
globemallows are one of these
groups of plants. They are so successful that growers now provide
plants with a variety of flower colors ranging from oranges, pinks,
reds and shades in-between.
The globemallows are in the
Malvaceae family whose most
common members are the wellknown hibiscus plants. Some may
know the “cheeseweed” which is a
common prostrate weed in the
Malvaceae family whose seeds
look like miniature wheels of
cheese, and the beautiful wild cotton, Gossypium thurberi with its
large white flowers.
Butterflies are attracted to the 1inch wide flowers of the globemallow that bloom from the bottom
up, off the sides of an herbaceous
stalk. Flowers in the Malvaceae
family usually have five delicate
cupped petals that are perfect landing pads for butterflies.
To use globemallows in the
landscape, choose a spot where
they can spread. They can be evergreen, but look a little scraggly
in the winter so tuck them among
anchor plants like agaves and cacti. They will also look stunning as
part of a wildflower mix. Trim
them up occasionally to revitalize
them or give them a severe cutting to stimulate a flush of new
Cado Daily , M.A.
Water Resources Coordinator
Cochise County Master
Gardener Newsletter Editor
Carolyn Gruenhagen
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jeffrey C.
Silvertooth, Associate Dean & Director, Economic Development & Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Arizona. The
University of Arizona is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national
origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities.
The information given herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Cooperative Extension is implied.
Any products, services, or organizations that are mentioned, shown, or indirectly implied in this publication do not imply endorsement by the University of
Who “Dung” It?
Gary Gruenhagen, Master Gardener
(Continued from page 4)
den. I’m learning that avoidance of
stress on my garden is less stress
on me. Not making use of fungicides, sulfur, or boron applications
saves me time and money and satisfies my goal of producing food
that is healthy and uncontaminated
by pesticide.
Come September I plant squash
again, using acclimated seedlings
of desired variety, making sure not
to over irrigate, as most plants in
the garden are fully mature and
require more water than do the new
plants. A couple months later I can
again reap, enjoy, and store high
quality summer squash right up to
first frost.
Seed collection procedures from
your second planting fruits, trusting
they are of good health and free of
disease, is well prescribed in The
New Seed Starters Handbook by N.
Bubel (1988). Squash is often unin-
tentionally cross pollinated so
selection of the fruit saved for its
seed is important. It should represent what you wish to grow
next year, taken from the plant at
full or just past full maturity.
Proper seed treatment and storage will avail a nice supply of
seed for you and to share with
My interest in home food production techniques continues to
evolve and I find that Integrated
Pest Management is the friendliest tool in the shed. Also, there is
plenty of room for it as I no
longer maintain piles of rank
smelling pesticides and fertilizers that were once what I was
feeding myself. Incorporating
IPM as the first thought of my
gardening, now provides me the
comfort in doing things my way,
in a sensible way, and is also
best for my overall garden’s pro-
duction, health, and beauty.
As for the powdery mildew,
Podsphaera xanthii, on my summer squash, only time will tell if I
have restricted its appearance in
my garden to an acceptable threshold. I fully anticipate two bountiful harvests as I will plant my
squash around the most desirable
environment for occurrence and
spread of these fungi, and will
monitor and record findings. I feel
confident that I have resolved a
garden pest problem within the
prevention discipline of Integrated
Pest Management, thus further
control is not anticipated.
DeForest “De” Lewis
Master Gardener and winner of a
2014 High Desert Gardening &
Landscaping Conference scholarship.